Floods can happen suddenly. The most important part of flood safety is to prepare before the floods happen. It is too late to learn and prepare when the disaster has already struck.
Before a flood:
- If you do not have Flood Insurance, talk to your insurance agent.
- To prevent significant flood damage to your building, you can retrofit it. Retrofitting can take the form of floodproofing the lower portions of the house, or elevating the house above the base flood elevation. For more information about retrofitting, look at the resources at FEMA’s online library, or the Marin County Free Library. You can also contact the Public Works Department at 415-899-8246 for more guidance on this issue.
- Rake up and bag leaves as often as possible before storms. Leaves clogging storm drains are the primary source of most flood occurrences.
- Clean drains around your home, including roof gutters, downspouts, drain inlets, pipes, drainage ditches and driveway culverts.
- During a flood watch, listen to the radio for news.
- Bring outdoor belongings indoors, and if time permits, move valuable possessions to the upper floors of your home.
- Use sandbags as a temporary measure to help reduce flood damage to your home. The Maintenance Division (415-897-4347) or Police Department (415-897-4361) can provide you with free sandbags, though you will have to provide your own labor and transportation.
- Be prepared to evacuate, and don’t hesitate to evacuate if so advised.
- Report local flooding or severe runoff to the Maintenance Division (415-897-4347), or the Police Department (415-897-4361).
During a flood:
- During a flood, tune in to the Novato emergency radio station, 530 AM. This station will broadcast emergency information in the event of flooding or other citywide emergencies.
- To report flooding, call the Maintenance Division: 415-897-4347, or the Police Department: 415-897-4361.
- Do not walk through flowing water; 6 inches of moving floodwater can knock you off your feet.
- If you are in a car, do not drive through flooded areas. A mere two feet of moving floodwater can drag vehicles away, and as little as six inches of water will short out most cars.
- Be careful of downed power lines and displaced animals in the water, especially rattlesnakes & rats.
- Watch your step for debris underfoot, like broken glass.
- Always use flashlights to inspect areas, never matches or open flames because of the potential for gas leaks.
The following resources can provide valuable information on preparing for a flood, what to do in the event of a flood, and what actions to take after the flood:
- FEMA: Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
- FEMA: Preparation & Prevention
- American Red Cross
- The Marin County Free Library also has a number of documents that can give you information about FEMA, FIRM, flood insurance, flood preparation, retrofitting, and many other topics.